Ice War

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By Walter O'Hara

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When Metagaming found a theme that worked, they really ran with it. ICE WAR is yet another pseudo-Cold War piece about the Soviets (cunningly called the European Socialist Alliance or ESA this time) and Americans (cunningly called the Americans) duking it out in the frozen wastes of the Arctic.  This game can be extremely interesting (probably the best design done by Keith Gross for Metagaming, IMHO), in that it has a lot of hidden movement and hidden setup involved in play mechanics.  How to simulate this using a PBeM utility, such as Cyberboard?  I've come up with a few ideas, I hope these work, they have not been playtested extensively. 

Hidden Movement: The Game Play sets up with the ESA player hidden (no counters on the map).  The ESA player must move his pieces on a piece of paper (according to the rules) until the ESA Command vehicle is detected by USA satellite sweep or by actual contact between units.  Problem: how to simulate this with CB?  Solutions: 1-  Maintain 2 (two) gameboxes as the ESA player, one gamebox not having ANY ESA units on it until detected, and the other actually having the ESA units in play on board.  Update the USA player's turns into both gameboxes normally.   When the ESA command vehicle gets detected, send the gamebox that has both ESA and USA units on it to the USA player, replacing his.  Discard the *.gam file that doesn't have ESA units onboard, and you are both in synch.  2- (a little less complicated but it involves another person).  Designate an offboard ref (third person) to receive "hidden" items such as: ESA movement, ESA Sled Loading, USA Satellite loads, USA Reinforcements.  This guy is just there to keep everyone honest.  3- Trust each other (there's a lot to be said for it, give it a try sometime).  4- Wait until the ADC 2 version comes out, replete with hidden units.. (it's in work... I lifted the counter art from it... blush)

NOTE!  Mark Johnson and I just recently completed a game of IW using method 1 above.  It worked surprisingly well.  Basically I created a game file called "Marksees.Gam" and sent that to him.  I copied it twice, calling the first one "hidden" and the second one "incremental."   I would plot my units on HIDDEN.GAM, then email him a message saying "No units detected, no missiles fired".  He would then fire back a *.GMV, which I would incorporate into HIDDEN and MARKSEES.  IF he detected my hidden units at any time, I would include turns into INCREMENTAL, only showing those units that Mark could see.   It wasn't as complicated as I thought-- I won't dwell on the fact that I moved ALL units in hidden format, when I should have just moved those stacked with the Command Sled.   Live and learn. 

Hidden Planning: The setup rules involve writing down significant game information and hiding it from the other player.  Problem: How to keep these units in a Cyberboard gamebox, but hide them from another player?  Solutions: I like to keep as much information as possible in one "container..." for PBeM.   Sometimes this isn't possible.  I think it can be for Ice War, just with some modicum of trust displayed by the players. 1-  I included little "Planning Boxes" to track setup items.  I also include an EYES ONLY cover marker for both sides to cover up your intial setup.  Both sides could set up and merge their efforts into a single gamebox. See the graphic below for examples:

ESA Missile Sled and Transport Planning

US Satellite Weapons and VTOL transport planning

US Reinforcement Pool

Note that the second box down has a privacy cover marker on the VTOL loadout display.   If this is moved during the course of play, the owning player will notice it during the replay.  2- Ignore the boxes if you are sending this information to an offboard ref.  3- Trust each other (yeah, yeah, yeah....)

NOTICE: This Gamebox is created using Dale Larson's excellent Play By Email utility, Cyberboard (the poor man's Aide De Camp!)

Visit the Cyberboard website by following this link

ICE WAR is copyright, Metagaming, 1979.

Designer: Keith Gross

Editing/Development: Howard Thompson

All rights reserved.  By downloading this gamebox, you are implicitly stating that you own a copy of ICE WAR.

The Action

A Sample battle from ICE WAR, showing most of the features of this gamebox.

The graphic above illustrates some of the features of this gamebox. The USA player is getting pounded.  A US outpost (the 1-0-I box in the center) has encountered the ESA attacking force... or has it encountered him?  In any event, satellite sweeps 1 and 2 (transparent overlays that fit over a 6 hex area) have detected the ESA command vehicle, so everything is visible.  The ESA responds by launch missiles from the missle sled that have pasted two three hex areas (another transparent overlay for the missile strikes, in a 3 hex and 6 hex pattern), and 3 hexes of ice get "converted" to water taking everything with it (single CONV tiles in hex shape).  The USA player flew out some INF units to secure the flanks, but it looks like he'll have to call in some of those orbital weapons to pull his hash out of the fire.

Turn Record

There isn't one in this game.

How to get the files

Download Gamebox:

ICE WAR Gamebox (zipped, "Ice War Setup" scenario file included)

Related Links/Resources:

Metagaming Gameography

Sleeping Dragon, a source for this game

A Force Planning Spreadsheet I wrote for Ice War.   Helps you select units for either side.

There will (eventually), be an Aide De Camp version of Ice War out, called "Ice War 2000" or something like that.  Check out the Aide De Camp distro site, under "LINKS: Aide De Camp," above.

This page content copyright, Walter O'Hara 1998